Ask Done & Done: Help! My Teenagers Are A Disorganized Mess!

Want to Get Organized?

Dear Ann and Kate,

I’ve been following your account for several years and you always seem to have good answers when it comes to dealing with family members.

My question is this – I have 2 teenagers and a preteen and I’m constantly battling with them about their rooms, the entryway (where they drop all their stuff) and their bathroom. I’ve tried to set up systems like you suggest, but nothing seems to work.

I’m so tired of fighting with them and I’m wondering if I should just give up? I want to teach them how to be responsible adults and I want my house to look organized but I’m not sure if it’s worth all the stress it’s causing in my home.

Thanks in advance,

A Troubled Mother

You’re Not The Only One

Hi Troubled,

Thanks so much for writing, we’re honored that you’ve been following us for so long!

Your question is a good one. Certainly you aren’t alone in your struggle and as I’m sure you know, parents have been arguing with their teenage children since the beginning of time. Can’t you just imagine a mother in the Stone Age trying to get her kids to clean up their rocks? Haha!

But seriously, the stress and frustration of trying to make your older children follow your rules is real. It’s natural for them to test the boundaries and rebelling against you is their way of preparing to leave the nest. Unfortunately, no matter the reason, butting heads is never fun for anyone.

I do have a couple of suggestions that may help deescalate the situation.

First, it is your home and you deserve a certain amount of respect. But not all battles can be won, so you should choose carefully! When Kate and her brother lived at home, I always had a rule that their rooms were their space and they could live how they wanted. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that Kate’s room was always organized!

Her brother was another story so we compromised and my rule was that common spaces, like an entryway, had to stay up to my standards. If your kids want to dump their backpacks on their bedroom floor, so be it, but not inside the front door.

By allowing them to have a place where they can live as they choose, they may be more willing to compromise with you on the living areas. Should you have to compromise? Maybe not, but if trying to gain some peace is the goal, I highly recommend working with them, not against them.

Make Your Kids Part Of The Solution

It might be beneficial to have a conversation with your kids about what will work best for them. Now is not the time to let your pride or your expectations get in the way. While you may want to have an Instagram worthy bathroom, your kids likely couldn’t care less. Save your perfectionism for your own bathroom and be satisfied that the towels are off the floor.

You can talk to them about what they think will work best. Does a hook on the back of the bathroom door make sense? Or does your daughter’s towel always end up on her bedroom floor? If so, discuss putting a hook in her bedroom. If she continues to leave her towel on her floor, she’s going to end up with a smelly towel because part of the solution can be that she doesn’t get to use a clean towel every single time she showers.

Enter the conversation with an open mind and open ears. If you can mutually come up with systems that will improve the situation, by all means, let them have a say!

Be Realistic

In a world in which social media defines our measure of success, we can easily get lost in comparison and envy. Please try to remember that this is simply a stage of life. What I wouldn’t give to have both of my kids back under my roof, mess and all! Gratitude goes a very long way when you are trying to figure out whether or not something is worth your trouble. If your kids are disrespecting you and won’t meet you halfway, that’s one thing. But if you just want your home to look “perfect” and it’s making everyone unhappy then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. Your home is meant to be lived in. It’s where memories are made and trust me when I say that they won’t remember your color coded bins. They’ll remember that you were there for them, that you loved them and that home was a place where they could feel safe from the rest of the world.

Stay strong Mom! You aren’t alone in your struggle and we’re here if you have any more questions!



***If you’re struggling with your family and need help setting up systems and making your home functional for everyone, check out our Love Your Home Again course! It will help you determine what’s important, how to get all your family members on board, and how to restore peace in your home!***